Amigos de las Américas (or AMIGOS) is a nonprofit organization based in Houston, Texas with 25 chapters across the USA. The Vision of AMIGOS is “A world where each young person becomes a life-long catalyst for social change.” AMIGOS works towards this vision by inspiring and building young leaders through collaborative community development and immersion in cross-cultural experiences.
AMIGOS was founded in 1965 when 29-year-old Guy Bevil Jr., youth pastor at River Oaks Baptist Church in Houston led a team of 181 teenagers and young adults into Honduras to administer polio vaccinations best water bottles. The group took donations of supplies, recruited 36 doctors, and learned how to give the vaccines by practicing on themselves. Many participants made the 1,500-mile trip by truck in order to ship the supplies into rural Honduras. The first summer in Honduras, volunteers inoculated over half a million people.
Upon their arrival home, Bevil and his group founded Amigos de Honduras, which grew to be Amigos de las Américas within the next year. Over half of the original participants applied to return the next summer. For the following two decades, AMIGOS focused primarily on administering vaccinations.
AMIGOS has expanded to many different countries including Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Peru, though some countries do not currently have active projects.
Other founders recognized by AMIGOS are H. Kirby Atwood antique meat tenderizer tool, Sr., Searcy Bracewell, Raymond Cook, Ed Frank, Jr., Carlos R football uniform costume. Hamilton, MD, Victor Huvelle, Mariann and John Marshall, Ed Morris, and Wilson J. Pais.
Amigos de las Américas is a non-religious, non-governmental, non-profit organization based out of Houston, Texas. AMIGOS sends high-school and college age volunteers to countries in Latin America where they live for six to eight weeks with a host family in a small community.
Volunteers are partnered with one or two other volunteers in carrying out health, education, and environmental programs, ranging from latrine construction to formation of youth groups to teaching HIV prevention and dental hygiene. AMIGOS offers a range of programs that volunteers can participate in – Healthy Households/Healthy communities, Youth-to-Youth Development, Digital Media/Technology and Community Nutrition/Agriculture. The programs are carried out in partnership with partner agencies, which have included Save the Children, Plan International and the governments of the various countries above. Asset-based community development is at the core of AMIGOS projects.
Each year, over 700 young people take part in AMIGOS’ various Latin American programs. Over 27,000 people have participated in the program since it began.
The international office is still located in Houston and employs a small staff year-round to manage the programs. Sara Nathan is the President and CEO.
AMIGOS encourages returning project volunteers to take leadership roles within the organization sports water jug. Each project (generally organized geographically and thematically) is led by a Project Director (PD), who is aided by an Associate Project Director (APDs). Senior Project Supervisors (SPSs) and Project Supervisors (P-Sups) oversee individual community projects and act as liaisons between the senior staff and the volunteers. Veteran volunteers can also stay active by joining a local chapter board.